Text of Press Conference by HMIC Alh. Lai Mohammed, in Lagos On Sunday, 15 July 2018


Good afternoon gentlemen. Thank you for once again honouring our invitation.

2. As you are aware, President Muhammadu Buhari has declared a national emergency on corruption, with the signing, on July 5th 2018, of the Presidential Executive Order Number 6 of 2018.

3. Summarised, Executive Order No. 6 of 2018 aims to, among others, restrict dealings in suspicious assets subject to investigation or inquiry bordering on corruption in order to preserve such assets from dissipation, and to deprive alleged criminals of the proceeds of their illicit activities which can otherwise be employed to allure, pervert and/or intimidate the investigative and judicial processes.

4. This is the Administration’s most potent weapon against corruption to date! Expectedly, there have been pockets of opposition to this Executive Order. Those opposed to it say it is unconstitutional, dictatorial and amounts to the usurpation of the powers of the legislature and the judiciary.

5. The truth is that, having realized the potency of the Order in giving muscle to the fight against corruption – which by the way is one of the three cardinal programmes of our Administration – the corrupt and their cohorts have become jittery. They have every reason to be. Henceforth, it won’t be business as usual.

4. For starters, this Executive Order will immediately affect 155 high profile corruption cases. The aggregate value of funds involved in these ongoing cases is N595,409,838,452.25K. This is a huge amount by any standard. It is higher than the N500 billion allotted to the Administration’s Social Investment Programme in the 2018 budget and the N344 billion allocated for the construction and rehabilitation of roads nationwide in the 2018 budget.

5. This Administration considers the war against corruption a must-win for Nigeria. In the words of the President, if Nigeria does not kill corruption, corruption will sooner or later kill Nigeria. That is why the President has declared a national emergency on corruption.

6. Some are wondering: Why is the President signing this Executive Order at this time? The President himself answered the question at the signing of the Order: “It has thus become necessary to re-kit and re-tool our arsenal to be able to effectively tackle corruption’s perilous counter-attack against the Nigerian State. Accordingly, the Federal Government of Nigeria has declared a national emergency to deal with that crisis.”

7. The President said the Administration, in line with its anti-corruption strategy, seeks to ensure that justice is not defeated or compromised by persons involved in a case or complaint of corruption. He said the viability and continuous well-being of the nation face enormous threat from corruption, pointing out that, while
there are many reasons why Nigeria has been struggling; regrettably, the most unfortunate cause of great disparity between Nigeria’s wealth and its poverty is endemic corruption.

8. Now, is Executive Order Number 6 unconstitutional, as those opposed to it have claimed? The answer is no. It is not unconstitutional. The President has the power, under Section 5 of the 1999 Constitution as amended – which extends to the execution and maintenance of the Constitution, all Laws made by the National Assembly (including but not limited to Section 15(5) of the Constitution) – to abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of power.

9. Besides, President Buhari is not the first democratically-elected President to issue Executive Order. Former Presidents Shehu Shagari and Olusegun Obasanjo issued Executive Orders. In 1980, then President Shagari issued an Executive Order to modify the Public Order Act. This was unsuccessfully challenged in court by then Governors of Ogun and Borno States. In 1999, then President Obasanjo issued Executive Orders to abolish the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF) and to proclaim May 29 as
Democracy Day.

10. When the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, acted as President, he issued Executive Orders for the Ease of Doing Business and for the expeditious issuance of international passports in all our embassies, and yet no one questioned the constitutionality of such orders.

11. For those who claim that the Executive Order Number 6 is dictatorial, it is clear they have not even read it. Section. 3 (i) of the Order, which states that
any Person who alleges that his rights have been violated, are being or are likely to be contravened by any of the provision of this Executive Order may apply to a competent Court in his jurisdiction for redress.

12. It is also important to state that past and present Presidents of the United States, after which our presidential system of government was fashioned, have been issuing Executive Orders since the time of the country’s first President, George Washington.

13 According to Wikipedia, American Presidents have used Executive Orders to direct a range of activities, including putting Japanese-Americans in internment camps during World War II; prohibiting racial discrimination in housing; pardoning Vietnam War draft evaders; giving federal workers the right to bargain collectively; keeping the federal workplace drug free; and sending U.S. troops to Bosnia.

14. George Washington, who was President of the United States from 1789 to 1797, issued 8 Executive Orders. Franklin Roosevelt (1933-1945) issued 3,522 Executive Orders; Barack Obama (2009-2017) issued 275 in eight years; Bill Clinton (1993-2001) 364 and current President Donald Trump 80 so far.

15. Recently, the US Supreme Court upheld, 5-4, President Trump’s indefinite ban on travel from several predominantly Muslim countries, That ban was the result of an Executive Order.

16. Executive Order Number 6 is constitutional. Anyone who feels otherwise can seek redress in court.

17. Finally, gentlemen, I want to summarise thus:

i) The Presidential Executive Order Number 6 is constitutional.

ii) President Buhari issued the order in accordance with the powers vested in him under Section 5 of the 1999 Constitution

iii) The Executive Order Number 6 restricts dealings in suspicious assets subject to investigation or inquiry bordering on corruption in order to preserve such assets from dissipation, and to deprive alleged criminals of the proceeds of their illicit activities which can otherwise be employed to allure, pervert and/or intimidate the
investigative and judicial processes.

iv) The corrupt and their allies are mortally afraid of Executive Order Number 6 because it will ensure that justice is done, and done expeditiously.

v) Those opposed to it should save their energy and go to court. The Administration cannot and will not be intimidated by their antics

vi) As Africa marks the African Anti-Corruption Day (July 11) 2018, the African Union’s Champion on Anti-Corruption, President Muhammadu Buhari, has shown uncommon courage and leadership by unveiling Nigeria’s most potent tool against corruption, Executive Order Number 6 of 2018

vii) We appeal to all Nigerians to support the Administration’s efforts to tackle the cankerworm of corruption to free national resources for national development

17. I thank you for your kind attention